19 May 1915

As at Helles on 1 May, Enver Pasha’s orders to the Turkish Army at Anzac were literally to drive the invaders into the sea and kill every one of them. The first mass attack was launched at 3.30 this morning.

At most places the oncoming enemy had to cross two or three hundred yards before they reached the Anzac entrenchments, and so there was half a minute or more when they were exposed in the open and quite defenceless. Very few of them survived even that amount of time. There was a kind of cascading movement in the battle; directly one line of soldiers had come over the parapet and been destroyed another line formed up, emerged into view and was cut down. For the first hour it was simply a matter of indiscriminate killing, but presently the Australians and New Zealanders began to adopt more systematic methods: when a Turkish officer appeared they deliberately withheld fire until he had assembled the full company of his men in the open. Then they were all destroyed together. […] Here and there some few of the Turks did manage to get into the Anzac trenches, but they survived only for a few minutes; there was a quick and awful bayoneting and then the tide receded again.

                                (Alan Moorehead, Gallipoli, p. 180)

The attacks went on like this for another eight hours. The Turks’ overwhelming numbers almost breached the Anzac lines at Courtney’s Post, but failed. At noon the action was suspended, the attackers having suffered 10,000 casualties and the Anzacs about 600. ‘More than 3000 dead were counted that afternoon in front of the Australian trenches’ (Official History). To quote Moorehead again: ‘Other heavier battles than this were fought at Gallipoli, but none with such a terrible concentration of killing, none so one-sided, and none with so strange an aftermath.’

Next entry: ‘An obscure mixture of feelings’


About Patrick Miles

I am a writer who specialises in Anton Chekhov and is writing a biography of George Calderon.
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